Ali Malekzadeh

This is the first in a series of Roosevelt University news updates relating to immigration issues.

Dear Colleagues:

I write to let you know that Roosevelt University affirms its historic policy of non-discrimination, in light of this weekend’s executive orders and immigration issues.

Seventy-one years ago we were founded expressly to build a university open to students, faculty and staff of all national origins, ethnicities, religions, race, economic status, and gender. It was a time when the majority of private universities in America restricted these groups and instead built communities that were largely white, native-born, Protestant and male.  Our founders, in contrast, refused to “count” students by race, national origin or religion, and included people from many countries, including refugees. We believed then – and affirm now – that American democracy and liberty has thrived because of its diversity.

As you may know, on Saturday President Trump issued an executive order banning for the next 90 days legal permanent residents and temporary visa holders from entering the U.S if the person is from Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Sudan, Somalia or Yemen. This includes students who have F-1 or J-1 visas, and faculty with temporary work visas. He also called for “extreme vetting” of those entering this country and banned Syrian refugees, exempting Christians.

I am concerned that students, faculty or staff might travel outside of the United States and find themselves unable to return. Please be aware of these policies as they develop. We suggest that those who might be impacted by this executive order postpone international travel. Contact our Director of International Programs, Dawn Hougland ( if you have questions.

In addition, I have assembled a committee on Sanctuary Campus issues, chaired by sociology department chair Pamela Robert, that will be meeting shortly. Members include Amy Dexter, Sharron Evans, Dawn Hougland, Paige Jovanvic (student), Al Nunez, Karla Ortiz (student), Terry Richards, and Jemima Tumewu (student).

America has had a complicated relationship with refugees and immigrants – at times restricting immigration (from Eastern Europe and Asia, for just two examples), turning away Jewish refugees from Hitler’s Germany, enslaving Africans, and interning Japanese Americans during World War II.  On the other hand and at other times, this country has welcomed refugees and immigrants. It is the latter history that we emulate.

I have signed, along with the presidents of more than 600 colleges and universities, a statement on behalf of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Executive Order, to support undocumented, immigrant students.  Our university also supports the BRIDGE Act legislation that would allow individuals who arrived in the U.S. as children to stay for another three years without the threat of deportation, while Congress addresses immigration issues. I also want to remind you of our policies concerning immigration:

  • We welcome qualified students without regard to their immigration status. We will continue to admit students without discrimination because of national origin.
  • We ensure the privacy of student records, including immigration status, consistent with state and federal laws.

In 1945, Eleanor Roosevelt dedicated our university  “to the enlightenment of the human spirit through the constant search for truth, and to the growth of the human spirit through knowledge, understanding and goodwill.” Her words continue to inspire. This is the legacy we uphold.

With regards,

Ali Malekzadeh, President

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